VERSAILLES, France -- Britain and Ireland
won their fifth successive Vivendi Trophy on Sunday with
Continental Europe's rally proving in vain.
After dominating the first three days, Britain and Ireland
needed only two wins from the 10 singles.
The trophy was secured in the first two matches when Rory McIlroy edged a pulsating match with world No. 5 Henrik Stenson of Sweden by one hole and Graeme McDowell took care of
last year's European No. 1 Robert Karlsson of Sweden 3 and 2.
In the first match, McIlroy collected an eagle and five
birdies to Stenson's eagle and four birdies but it was a
double-bogey by the Swede on the penultimate hole that handed
the match to the Briton.
Both players smashed into trees on the 17th but Stenson then
hit his second shot into the heavy rough, to allow his
20-year-old opponent to go ahead. Both made pars at the 18th,
McIlroy sinking a nervy 4-footer for the win.
"I'd be lying if I said my hands weren't a little shaky over
the putt on the last," McIlroy told reporters. "It was a great
result for the team because of what was happening behind and
good to put the point on the board."
Stenson, admitted to "fighting my swing all week" but paid
tribute to McIlroy.
"He just keeps improving and I fully expect him to be in the
Ryder Cup squad next year," Stenson said. "In fact,
when he holed a 30-footer I told him I wouldn't mind playing
with him next October if he keeps rolling them in like that."
McDowell was never behind against Karlsson, who was playing
his first tournament for nearly five months after retinal
problems. Although Karlsson got it back to only one down after
14, errors by the Swede cost him any chance of recovering the
Continental Europe rallied during McDowell
and McIlroy's matches and were winning all the remaining ties
before running out of steam.
"The more blue [of the continentals] I saw on the board I
thought 'this is going to be more important than we thought,
let's get the job done,' " McDowell said.
"And thankfully I did."
Bjorn had instructed his team to "play for your pride" and
it responded determinedly, none more so than Dane Anders Hansen.
The former European PGA champion ran up a staggering 10
birdies in 12 holes to crush Englishman Nick Dougherty 7 and 6.
Englishman Robert Rock earned the only other Britain and
Ireland point by defeating Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano by
one hole. Chris Wood of England, with the week's best record of
4½ points, gained a half with Swede Peter Hanson.
Seve Ballesteros, the five-time major champion who created
the tournament, recovering from brain tumor surgery, was
unable to attend the closing ceremony but congratulated the teams
via a television broadcast.
"I just finished my radiotherapy. Hopefully I should be OK in about one month," he said. "I'm looking forward to seeing you
on the seventh edition of the Seve Trophy in two years' time."